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Scientists Find 30 New Fish Species In Borneo Rainforests


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Scientists Find 30 New Fish Species in Borneo Rainforest

GLAND, Switzerland, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- At least 52 new

species of animals and plants have been identified this past year on the

island of Borneo, according to scientists.

The discoveries, described in a report compiled by WWF, include 30

unique fish species, two tree frog species, 16 ginger species, three tree

species and one large-leafed plant species.

WWF says that these findings further highlight the need to conserve the

habitat and species of the world's third largest island.

"The more we look the more we find," said Stuart Chapman, WWF

International Coordinator of the Heart of Borneo Programme. "These

discoveries reaffirm Borneo's position as one of the most important centres

of biodiversity in the world."

Many of these creatures new to science are amazing: a miniature fish -

the world's second smallest vertebrate, measuring less than one centimetre

in length and found in the highly acidic blackwater peat swamps of the

island; six Siamese fighting fish, including one species with a beautiful

iridescent blue-green marking; a catfish with protruding teeth and an

adhesive belly which allows it to literally stick to rocks; and a tree frog

with striking bright green eyes.

For plants, the ginger discoveries more than double the entire number

of the Etlingera species found to date, and the tree flora of Borneo has

been expanded by three new tree species of the genus Beilschmiedia.

Several of these new species were found in the "Heart of Borneo", a

220,000km2 mountainous region covered with equatorial rainforest in the

centre of the island. But WWF warns that this habitat continues to be

threatened with large areas of forest being increasingly cleared for

rubber, oil palm and pulp production. Since 1996, deforestation across

Indonesia has increased to an average of 2 million hectares per year and

today only half of Borneo's original forest cover remains, according to the

global conservation organization.

"The remote and inaccessible forests in the Heart of Borneo are one of

the world's final frontiers for science and many new species continue to be

discovered here. We are just waiting for the next surprise," added Chapman.

"But these forests are also vital because they are the source of most of

the island's major rivers, and act as a natural "fire-break" against the

fires that have ravaged the lowlands this year."

At a meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity held last

March in Curitiba, Brazil, the three Bornean governments - Brunei

Darussalam, Indonesia and Malaysia - declared their commitment to support

an initiative to conserve and sustainably manage the Heart of Borneo. It is

now hoped that they will finalise a formal joint declaration as a matter of

urgency to put the Heart of Borneo on the global stage of conservation


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